Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, July 30, 2002 5:17 pm

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 5:17 pm

I don’t often listen to morning radio because I seldom have time. That’s a good thing, because most of it in this market, as in most, is frat-boy fart jokes or twangin’ country.

But I stumbled into the middle of a conversation yesterday on Bob Lacey and Sheri Lynch’s morning show, which one of our stations carries, apparently about a possum that had been trapped underneath a caller’s bathtub.

Now, I guess you need to know that Sheri is from Philly or thereabouts and seems to have a sick fascination with some of the more salient features of life down here in the South. And sure enough, when the caller talked about this possum that apparently had been trapped under the tub in her house and had died, Sheri free-associated something along the lines of the following (if the verbatim exchange was anywhere on their Web site, I couldn’t find it):

So you’ve got this John Wayne Gacy thing going on, and here’s this poor possum’s family getting together and saying, “Yeah, I remember ol’ Uncle Jack. He was trapped under that tub, scratching for mercy…. ”

OK, like I said, sick, but, hey, I enjoyed it.

Monday, July 29, 2002 4:32 pm

Present at the creation: Animal House

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 4:32 pm

“Animal House” came out 24 years ago this summer. We were not then so far removed from Nixon and Watergate that the parallels between Nixon and Dean Vernon Wormer weren’t obvious, although I suspect that most other 18-year-olds watching it probably didn’t care. It had a profound effect on movies, too: Imagine trying to make a movie like “Police Academy,” “Porky’s” or “American Pie” without “Animal House” as a reference.

Its timing was particularly fortuitous in my life because that was the summer before I started college. In the fall of 1978, then, toga parties were de rigeur even at relatively staid institutions such as Davidson, where most fraternities were located in on-campus houses and allowed members to self-select, rather than requiring potential members to “rush” and pledge. Two exceptions were the off-campus houses, Phi Gamma Delta (“Fiji”) and Sigma Phi Epsilon (“Sig Ep” or “SPE,” usually pronounced, derisively, as “SPEEEEEEEE!!”).

The Sig Eps were housed in a 100-year-old columned house on North Main Street in the town of Davidson. There, the liquor flowed freely, the Coke machine had beer in it (not the horror it seems; keep in mind that in North Carolina in 1978 it was legal for 18-year-olds to drink beer and wine), the music played loudly and the attitude was defiant.

Now, this is not to say that Sig Ep, then or now, at Davidson or anywhere else, was anything close to “Animal House” (except for the part where IT TOTALLY WAS, but more on that some other time — today the national organization is a leader in encouraging and requiring respectable, responsible behavior from its undergrads). But at a campus where conformity was damn near demanded, the Sig Eps were outrageously heterogenous. ROTC studs partied with stoner hippies, New York preppies with Georgia rednecks, disco freaks with rock ‘n’ rollers, 4-0 pre-meds (including one who today is my personal physician) with guys who were hanging on by the skin of their academic teeth.

Like a lot of things, my fraternity experience was a mixed bag, and I suspect I remember more of the good today than I do the bad. But I also suspect that that experience wouldn’t have happened — I probably wouldn’t have been so attracted to Sig Ep, nor the chapter to me — without “Animal House” as a backdrop. And if it hadn’t happened, I suspect I’d’ve transferred out of Davidson, with whose culture I remained at odds throughout my undergrad career, by the end of my sophomore year.

So here’s to “Animal House,” which National Public Radio revisited this morning as part of its “Present at the Creation” series. I owe at least my degree to it, and possibly a good part of my outlook and world view. That’s a helluva thing to pin on a cheap teen movie, I admit, but there it is.

Sunday, July 28, 2002 10:29 pm

Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 10:29 pm

“Sweetie, how come you haven’t started cleaning the den like I asked?”

“I don’t know.”

“You know, you have had a hard time listening to my words tonight, haven’t you?”


“I don’t understand that, sweetie. I know that at school your teachers say you are very good at listening to their words. You bring home the medals that say, ‘I listen and make good choices.’ So I know you can listen to my words. So why don’t you?”

“I don’t know, Daddy. That’s just the kind of girl I am.”

Thursday, July 25, 2002 11:48 am

Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 11:48 am

Some good news for a change. Keith Olbermann, possibly the smartest and certainly the most interesting person to work on the air in broadcast or cable television in the past decade, is now writing a column for online magazine Salon. Olbermann, you might recall, was the guy who quit a lucrative gig at MSNBC because doing “all Monica, all the time” gave him “the dry heaves.”

Monday, July 15, 2002 1:45 pm

Filed under: Ew. — Lex @ 1:45 pm

I’m congested as heck today and sound like half past dead. I don’t know whether it’s a cold, allergies, the local ozone problem we’ve been having or the toxic cocktail of sodium hyroxide (the active ingredient, albeit diluted, in the stuff that lets you scrape wallpaper adhesive off the wall without damaging the underlying wallboard) and silica dust I spent the weekend breathing (even with a mask on) as we de-wallpapered, spackled and sanded the guest bedroom. But whatever, I sound like I’m talking through a mouthful of graveyard dirt. Plus, my chest is congested and I’m hacking. Time to have a pow-wow with my good friend Roby.

Monday, July 8, 2002 3:55 pm

Filed under: Sad — Lex @ 3:55 pm

Last week, former Boston Red Sox star Ted Williams died at age 83. In a stellar career — one all the more remarkable because he lost 5 1/2 years of it to military service in World War II and Korea — Williams clearly achieved the goal he set for himself before his career began: He became the greatest hitter in the storied history of baseball.

I’ll spare you the stats in case you don’t follow baseball, but know this: they bear out that he became what he had sought to become. Moreover, he served his country not just honorably but heroically in two different wars. At what cost in terms of his achievements in baseball? For one thing, he might well have broken Babe Ruth’s career record of 714 home runs a decade and a half or so before Henry Aaron did it.

In person, Williams could be an irascible ass, particularly to journalists. During his career, he also didn’t care much for the fans, although that attitude mellowed as he aged. But no matter how much of a jerk he could be, he certainly doesn’t deserve to have his reputation — and his earthly remains — exploited like this.

His son, John Henry, apparently has a long history of this. Even if you grant that father and son were not close when the son was young and that this latest enterprise is just one more pathetic attempt to close the enormous emotional gap that must have existed between them — and that would be a most charitable view — John Henry’s behavior is hard to understand, and even harder to tolerate.

In all fairness to John Henry, however, apparently — and sadly — no one has the legal authority to prevent him from doing what he plans to do. All we can do is hope that no one tries to buy what he’s selling, and that he will eventually think better of this decision and let his dad rest in peace.

God knows Ted Williams has earned it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2002 2:11 pm

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 2:11 pm

I’ve long suspected that I was getting stupider as I aged, and now there’s proof, at least for those of us with kids.

Filed under: Y'all go read this — Lex @ 1:57 pm

Some people think they know how to do screeds. But I stumbled upon someone who really knows how to do a screed — and also reminded me of one of the few things I didn’t like about living in New York, back in the day.

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